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Tea Talks: Teaching Histories of Wartime Sexual Violence in a Liberal Arts Curriculum

Dr. Liza Lawrence, assistant professor of history and Asian studies, will present the Tea Talk "Teaching Histories of Wartime Sexual Violence in a Liberal Arts Curriculum."

Abstract: Teaching the history of sexual violence during the Asia Pacific War requires consideration of some thorny questions: 

Should one adopt the now conventional but euphemistic term “comfort women” or the increasingly accepted but still problematic “military sex slaves” to describe the victims and survivors of sexual violence by the Japanese Imperial Army?

When is the right time to introduce course content involving traumatic violence? What content or trigger warnings are necessary? And is there a danger of introducing cultural stereotypes when students have limited prior academic or personal experiences related to Asia or people of Asian descent?

Finally, there are questions that lie at the heart of Augustana’s First Year Inquiry curriculum: “How do you know what you think you know, and to what extent can you be certain” and “How is difference constructed and what differences matter.” My talk begins with these last two questions, which I relate to controversy over a peer-reviewed article that argued, without evidence, that “comfort women” were willing prostitutes. I argue that it is worthwhile to teach students with no prior interest in Asia, women and gender studies, or history, to respectfully apply those histories to acquiring the skills of academic inquiry, critical thinking and intercultural competency.

Now entering its 12th year, the Tea Talks lecture series features speakers on a range of topics. The series is sponsored by the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.

All lectures are held from 4:15 p.m.-5:15 p.m. in the Wilson Center on campus.

Lectures are free and open to the public as well as the campus community. Refreshments are served.


Wilson Center

Augustana College
3750 7th Ave.
Rock Island, IL 61201
United States

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